18 May The playground decision: Why materials matter
Of all the factors you must consider when planning a playground, one of the most important is what materials are used in the playground’s structural components. There are only three basic options to consider for commercial playgrounds: steel, wood, and plastic.
Even with regular (and costly!) maintenance, steel playground components will rust and need replacement within 10 to 15 years. Owners of wooden playgrounds face even more problems—especially mold, rot, and frequent sealing or staining, not to mention the hazards splinters pose for children. Plastic components can be either the solution or another set of problems, depending on the type of plastics and processes used in manufacturing. Here’s what you need to know:
Recycled HDPE Plastic Playground Equipment
- The preferred plastic material for playground components is recycled HDPE (high-density polyethylene), made mostly from milk jugs.
- HDPE is sustainable, rugged, durable, and adaptable for a variety of commercial applications. It also can be melted and reformed to recycle it again.
- Many companies claim to make plastic lumber from recycled HDPE. Unless properly formulated, even HDPE can crack and split. (EcoPlay field reps see this often with playgrounds we are replacing.)
- HDPE plastic lumber can itself be recycled as part of a “closed loop” of sustainability.
EcoPlay Structures’ plastic lumber is based on a proprietary formula and is molded piece by piece. Unlike other HDPE, fiber-reinforced composite, and composite plastics used to make playground equipment, our plastic lumber combines two attributes that result in extraordinary strength and durability:
- Made from 95% HDPE and a naturally occurring mineral, it has outstanding chemical, moisture, and environmental stress crack resistance. We don’t comingle HDPE with non-HDPE plastics, fiberglass, or fillers that will degrade tensile and compressive strengths.
- Our plastic lumber provides extraordinary structural properties and won’t rot, split, crack, chip, or fade, even after long exposure to harsh weather conditions.
Thanks to our proprietary material and processes, EcoPlay Structures stands behind the commercial playground structures we manufacture with a 50-year warranty on the EcoPlay® lumber. Interested in learning more? Please contact us today!